Category Archives: Steampunk

Iron Tribune, Roman Steampunk by Daniel Ottalini

Iron Tribune - Daniel OttaliniAbout a year and a half ago I stumbled across Daniel Ottalini during an online Steampunk writers’ convention being conducted on Facebook. I was intrigued by his story lines for Steampunk set in Rome. Being the voracious reader that I am, I quickly obtained (legal) digital copies of the first two books in his Roman series and commenced to reading them. You can read my review of those first two novels in the series here.

I was very pleased, and somewhat surprised, when Daniel asked me to read the third book in the Steam Empire Chronicles, in advance of book four coming out this year. Apparently he liked how I reviewed his earlier works in the series and wanted my continued review-input to be available for his reader- and fan-base. I just finished Iron Tribune on May 1st. Before diving into my review, let me just say that I am looking forward to book four, Steel Praetorian.

Iron Tribune continues the story of Julius, Constantine, and Alexandros as they find themselves being promoted through the ranks of the Roman military and facing the battles that those promotions can entail, both physically and politically. The story also builds on Marciena, Julius’s little sister, and her fostering with the Senatora. Loaded with political intrigue, military tactics, and some homespun feel good back stories, this third installment in the Steam Empire Chronicles won’t disappoint readers one bit.

In this third installment the heroes find themselves gaining on life. Julius finds love in the unlikeliest of places, Constantine assumes the mantel of the heir apparent, and Alexandros overcomes an obstacle he never thought he could surmount. Along the way they get themselves into all kinds of trouble – war, assassination attempts, substandard military weapons and gear – you name it and they just might have to deal with it. Oh, and did I forget to mention that new characters get introduced that will keep you guessing as to what Ottalini has planned for his intrepid Legionnaires?

With all due respect to the genre of historical fiction, Ottalini’s Steampunk revisioning of the Roman Empire will keep you wanting more.  The political intrigue alone is enough to make this reader want to snatch up book four when it comes out. But don’t let that be the only thing that grabs at you!

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The Aetheric Artifacts by Wendy Callahan

Right after finishing Daniel Ottalini‘s steampunk novels that I wrote about in an earlier post, I dived head first into the works of Wendy Callahan. Ms Callahan is another steampunk novelist.  She’s also somewhat local to me in Nebraska. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have come across Ottalini’s  Roman steampunk.

Reader’s comments: “Warehouse 13 meets Sherlock Holmes.”

“Wild Wild West meets Sherlock Holmes.”

I’d go so far as to say that Friday the 13th (the series) meets Sherlock Holmes.

Callahan combines action, adventure, and romance with hints of the paranormal to grab the reader’s attention. Set in the late 19th Century, her stories of Demetra Ashdown and her companions will appeal to Anglophiles and fans of Victorian romance, as well as the steampunk fans out there.

I’ll give you just a little background: Demetra Ashdown is the daughter of an inventor. She’s half Aetheral, a race of beings who can trace their bloodlines to the ancient gods. There are Infernals and Celestials. Demetra has a close-knit bunch of companions, including her human father, Lord Francis Winterton – the man who broke her heart (The Gilded Gun), her best friend Simon Warom, and her half Infernal aunt Verti (The Daemon Device and The Enigma Engine). Through her adventures she meets such intriguing and historical figures as Samuel Mathers and Elizabeth Bathory (The Chronos Clock).


Wendy Callahan

Reading the collection as an omnibus I had the pleasure of reading everything in story line order. Callahan wrote The Chronos Clock and other works before she did the prequel that starts the omnibus, The Gilded Gun. Reading them from the beginning gave me a wonderful introduction to the author’s writing style. Sometimes simple, but rarely simplistic. Any sophomoric tendencies in her writing are more than made up for with her accurate use of Victorian era social niceties and etiquette.

Simply put, each and every one of these stories from Callahan will grab you and drag you willingly through the escapades of Demetra and her companions. Along the way you will learn about her own special abilities and those other Aetherals she encounters, get a history lesson in the mythos and the fact of Celestials and Infernals, and take a journey through the 1890’s landscape of the United States. You’ll also plumb the depths of romance between Demetra and Francis and the unrequited love that can come out of a life long friendship.

I’d go into details on each story, but I’d hate to spoil the read for you. Suffice it to say that you will be entertained throughout the read of each story.

From an editor’s stand point, the book had very few if any continuity flaws. As is usual with just about any ebook edition I have ever read there are a few errors in formatting and some apparent typos that escaped the editor’s notice. Over all they were not very distracting.

I’m looking forward to reading more from Wendy Callahan in the future. Perhaps some fantasy or even steampunk erotica.

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Daniel Ottalini’s Roman Steampunk

In November I made a few connections and some new friends. One of those is the young author Daniel Ottalini. It was during a promotion of steampunk novelists. At least one of which I already knew, Wendy Callahan. I was very much intrigued by the story line Daniel presented for his contributions to the sale.

Winner of the 2013 EPICon award for Best Action-Adventure Novel.

The first of his novels that I read was Brass Legionnaire. Without giving too much away, Brass finds us in mid 19th Century Europe. The Roman Empire has not faded into history, instead it thrives. Young Julius joins the Roman army to help make a better life for his little sister – against the wishes of his parents. There he makes friends with other young legionnaires that bring all sorts of new thoughts and concepts to his life. One of those young friends is the younger son of the Emperor, Constantine.

After learning how to fight, learning how to survive, and learning to be loyal to more than just a concept, the young legionnaires and their tribune become an elite force in a new section of the Roman army – essentially paratroopers without the parachutes. They learn to fight not only on land but in the air through the Imperial Air Legions.

Their mettle is soon to be tested when a nefarious plot puts Julius’s home and family in danger, as well as the heart of the Empire. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out what happens.

For a first novel, Daniel tells a good story with lots of detail, action, and character building. Being a first novel, it is a little rough in places. From the perspective of my editor’s eye, very few glaring errors made it into the ebook version that I read. All in all, I enjoyed the book and slid quickly into the second of the saga, Copper Centurion.

SPOILER ALERT – Do not read further if you haven’t first read Brass Legionnaire.

EPIC eBook 2014 Finalist

Copper Centurion picks up several months after the Battle of Brittenberg. Julius has been elevated to Centurion and Constantine has slowly adjusted to being Caesar Primus. The Empire is plotting their revenge against the rebels and tribes of the Nortlanders for the destruction of Brittenberg and the decimation of the Empire’s strength in the Senate.

Aboard the airship of Captain Alexandros the men of XIII Germania’s 13th Cohort, under the command of Constantine, have become veterans of war. They are joined in their efforts by Senatora Octavia, the daughter of one of the greatest Senators of the Empire. Their mission is to bring justice to the Nortlanders for their part in the rebellion that nearly destroyed Brittenberg and to bring the rebel leader, Corbus,  back to Rome, dead or alive.

You’ll be drawn into battle, political intrigue on multiple fronts, a bit of romance, the bravado of young soldiers, and the never dying quest for revenge for the loss of one’s family. Julius and his cohort face death over and over. Constantine finds that the Nortlanders are just as adept at intrigue has his Roman brothers. Octavia puts herself on the line to prove herself to her father and to the Senate. Corbus finds himself engulfed in a much different war than he had planned within the walls of Midgard.

Throughout the second book in the saga, Daniel builds his characters even more than he had in the first. Bringing a clearer, better thought out character to the reader with each turn of the page. His style of each chapter coming from the perspective of a particular character is not unique, but the way he works it…well, it is quite clear that each character has their own eyes on the situation as it unfolds.

I look forward to the third book!


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